Oak-corns & Apple-thorns

January, 2013

New Years Resolution: Disobedience, Rebellion, and TransgressionOak-corns & Apple-thorns

Zola, Dostoyevsky, Lawrence, Joyce, Salinger, Burroughs, and Palahniuck all wrote books that shocked and inspired the world.  Directors like Lynch, Peckinpah, Polanski, and Kelly made films that made us see.  The poetry of Ginsberg put us on our heels and reeling.  What all of these artists have in common is transgression.

Sometimes we have to see and hear the things that nobody wants to see and hear, and go the places nobody wants to go, in order to grow as individuals and societies.  Like a bolt of lightning that sparks a forest fire, transgressive art brings light and cleansing.  In its aftermath there is change.  Seeds spring up in the waste.  New growth from the ashes.  Rebirth.

The roots of the modern witchcraft movement are in shocking people and books — stuff the popular witch-o-sphere increasingly disavows.  Aleister Crowley, whose outrageous behavior shocked the world, was clearly an inspiration to Gerald Gardner, who also shocked the world by appearing on radio and TV to talk about Wicca.  Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, from which the Charge of the Goddess clearly borrows, is no longer on most popular reading lists.  It’s an angry text, full of incitement and ire, that speaks of Lucifer.  One of my favorite books dealing with magic an witchcraft and its transgressive nature is Rebels & Devils by Chris Hyatt.  It never gets mentioned.  I guess nowadays most people are afraid to be labeled as devil worshippers (I know I was, until just recently anyway).  The truth is, we can deny it all we like, but in the eyes of the mainstream our Horned God is the Devil.

When I was in middle school there was a kid I’ll call Curtis.  Curtis was fat and got picked on a lot.  The gym teacher used to hand us a football and tell us play touch while he went to smoke cigarettes.  When teacher was out of sight we’d switched to tackle with no pads.  Curtis got banged around pretty badly all of the time, until the day he had enough.  He took a hard shot to the face and his lips and teeth were oozing red.  Curtis pulled up the tail of his t-shirt and stuffed a wad of it into his mouth for a makeshift mouthpiece, biting down hard.  He began to play like a demon, making crushing tackles with eyes blazing.  When the teacher returned Curtis had a patch of red on his shirt the size of a dinnerplate and the respect of every boy at the school.  The point is, Curtis transgressed.  What the other boys thought they wanted was for him to accept his role as the fat kid, cry, and go to the Nurse’s Station.  But when he ruined his shirt and grinned like a madman, it was magic.

Witchcraft is a transgressive art form.  In mainstream society people aren’t supposed to worship other gods, or cast spells, or create rituals, or do anything differently.  You aren’t supposed to talk to trees, pray to the Moon, or run naked in the forest.  This culture doesn’t want anything to change.  Like the Titanic, it resists sudden changes in course even with icebergs loom.  It wants everyone to fit in, to make nice, to be acceptable and fit into boxes.

Look around.  Do any of you think this culture doesn’t need a course correction?  A shock to the senses?  Maybe even a good punch in the nose?

Make it your New Year’s resolution to embrace transgression.  2013 is the year of the Snake.  Say a prayer to Lilith and proudly take a big bite of the Apple.